It was over two years ago that Mike Abary, senior vice president at Sony, reached into his inner suit pocket and pulled out the Sony VAIO VGN-UX180P. At the time he called this handheld PC, which ran a full blown version of Windows XP, "an achievement in ingenious design." Little did he know he'd be pulling the same stunt again recently at a quaint hotel in Manhattan, where I was one of the few journalists invited to preview Sony's take on the netbook revolution.

Abary reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a clamshell the length of two UX180Ps, but not even an inch thick. He described it as Sony's answer to the surging netbook market—only it's not being classified as a netbook, it's not an update to the UX180P, and the intended audience, interestingly enough, is women. It's called the Sony VAIO P-Series or simply, the Sony Lifestyle PC.

Even though there are no ties between them, the Lifestyle PC conjures up images of Intel's Moorestown concept device. It weighs a mere 1.4 pounds, only two-tenths of a pound heavier than the original UX180P. And it's about the length of the ASUS eeePC 1002HA but only half its depth, looking like an oversized TV remote with a lid. Its look is unique, and its design intentions are clear: Sony wants to dissociate the Lifestyle PC from the MSI Wind, the Asus eeePCs, and the Acer Aspire One—some of the more popular netbooks in the market. In my opinion, it has successfully done so.

The 8-inch LED screen is unlike anything you'll see on a netbook, or a laptop for that matter. In order to maintain its physical dimensions, the vertical height of the screen had to be compressed, making the screen appear extraordinarily wide. It's clearly smaller than the 10-inch screens found on the Wind and the 1002HA, but the screen resolution is what makes everything gel.

Practically every netbook uses a 1,024 X 600 resolution; the Lifestyle PC's native resolution is 1,600 X 768. Such a resolution can fill up the screen, for instance, with three file Explorer windows without any overlap. There's even a Windows Arrangement button (next to the mouse buttons) that will neatly tile your application windows together. Increasing the resolution of such a small screen could cause problems with text, but text and icon sizes were tolerable and the potential of watching a video while Microsoft Word and Powerpoint are fully opened on each side is very compelling. (full Story)

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